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Kung hei fat choy! It’s Chinese New Year today, which means the end of the Year of the Snake and the beginning of the Year of the Horse. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated with red paper decorations, gifts of money, deep house cleaning and big family dinners filled with symbolic foods meant to ensure luck and prosperity in the new year. F&W can help with that last part. Here, good-luck foods for a Chinese New Year feast:
Whole Fish: In Chinese, the word for fish sounds a lot like the word for abundance (food puns/sound-alikes are a big theme in Chinese New Year foods). It is important that the fish be served whole with the head and tail intact; this will guarantee a great start and finish to the year. Try this foolproof recipe for whole roasted fish from seafood expert David Pasternack.
Leafy Greens: Serve greens like Chinese broccoli or bok choy whole to symbolize a long life for parents. Try bok choy simply stir-fried with black bean sauce.
Leeks: The word for leek in Chinese is a homophone for calculating money. While they’re typically served with slices of Chinese sausage (because they look like coins) leeks can also be sliced into coin-shaped rounds themselves and cooked until terrifically tender, à la José Andrés.
Uncut Noodles: Long, uncut noodles represent longevity. Try Andrew Zimmern’s spicy, aromatic, Sichuan-inspired noodles—the longer the better.
Dumplings: Rectangular dumplings symbolize money and prosperity because they resemble gold or silver ingots. But round or crescent-shaped dumplings are also acceptable; making them symbolizes packing luck into a little, edible gift. Use this easy step-by-step guide to make perfect homemade dumplings.
Seeds: If you’re hoping to add a new member to your family this year, include some pumpkin, sunflower or melon seeds in your meal—they symbolize fertility. This sunflower seed brittle is a deliciously crunchy way to end a meal.